It was an honour to speak at Brighton SEO last week. I am really glad to have received all the positive feedback and I hope these tips help showcase the power of GA4!
In hindsight, maybe the word “Hacking” was a little click-baity. That said, the list below are my recommendations for the SEO community and where I see the benefits of GA4.
I’ve summarised this in the article below, if you want to have a look at the Brighton SEO deck, you can find it below (the fun starts on slide 10).
1. Viewing Search Console data inside GA4
GA4 has a feature which hasn’t been publicised that well in my opinion. You have the ability of viewing Search Console data straight within the GA4 platform.
To enable this, follow the steps outlined below:
- Link GA4 to Search Console from the admin section within GA4
- Admin > Product Links > Search Console Links
- Click on “Link” and follow the instructions to link your Search Console property
- Enable the Search Console Navigation collection within GA4
- Click on Reports > Library
- Within Collections you’ll see a “Search Console” collection that is unpublished, click on the three dots and Publish (it may take 10 seconds to show up)
- Voila! You have yourself a new section in GA4 called “Search Console” with reports about queries, traffic and more!
2. Customise your GA4 Navigation entirely
GA4 allows you to completely re-vamp your navigation within the UI to suit your needs (within reason). I believe this is done to accommodate for all industries rather than having a rigid UI – every business is different and deserves a unique UI.
You’re able to do this by navigating to Reports > Library where you have the ability of modifying all reports. You can rename sections and even creating brand new collections like a SEO collection where all reports are filtered to only show Search data!)
3. Enhance your reporting with Event Parameters
Suppose you want to track additional data for every blog post you viewed. For example, let’s say you wanted to track the author of the post. You can easily do this with Event Parameters within GA4.
Each Page view, scroll, click or conversion is an event within GA4. And all events allow additional detail to be added to them known as Event Parameters.
How to do this:
- Work with your developer and have them expose the Author of the post to you (either in the dataLayer for GTM or send it in with the
page_viewevent for GTAG)
- [Don’t forget this step!] Create a Custom Dimension inside the GA4 user interface within the admin section (Admin > Custom definitions) and reference the event parameter your developer added in (most likely
authorin lowercase or similar – ensure your developer confirms what the event parameter name is)
- You’ll be able to report on Author going forward (sadly this isn’t retrospective)
4. Get alerted when something drastically changes
GA4 has a buried feature called Insights & Recommendations. You can find this in the Home section when you scroll all the way to the bottom. You’re able to setup your own email alerts when changes occur in your account.
Simply “create your own” alert and you will be notified when things change in your account. I.e. Organic traffic drops 20% when compared week on week, for example.
5. Report on speed metrics
Although GA4 doesn’t natively support speed metrics, with the help of Google Tag Manager you’re able to send Core Web Vital metrics in and report on them. Here’s a post to Simo Ahava’s blog where you can read more about how to do this using GTM.
6. Report on moving people down the SEO funnel
I did not know that within content there was a concept of moving people down a micro funnel (I’m naming it the SEO funnel). From abstract blog posts to more product focused blog posts – this was news to me! (Thank you Andy Chadwick for enlightening me!)
GA4 packs in the ability to create events from user behaviour – this to me, is a great way of empowering non-technical users and allowing them to influence data collection.
Let’s say you had blog post A which was an abstract piece about sofas, and blog post B which was about a 2 seater black sofa (that happens to be sold by your site).
If you wanted to report on people you moved from blog post A to blog post B, you could create an Audience in GA4 that matched the sequence of someone moving from post A -> post B. Once a user qualifies in this audience you could have GA4 create a brand new event which you could then report on weekly.
7. Familiarise yourself with the new channel grouping definitions
GA4 has a new way of grouping traffic, ensure you’re clear on where your traffic will end up as some definitions have changed!
You can find the definitions within Google’s support centre.
8. Take advantage of free* export data
GA4 allows you to export your raw data into Google’s data warehouse BigQuery. This involves creating a Google Cloud Platform project and adding your billing information to it. It’s worth having if you plan to report on data that extends beyond the 14 months currently allowed on GA4’s free version.
My recommendation: Even if you aren’t an Analyst that knows SQL, at some point you may want to access data from a few years ago – this raw data will become vital at that point.
Here’s a link to Google’s support article on setting this up.
*You’ll need to pay a storage fee for BigQuery (I haven’t hit $3.00 with 2 years of data for one of my clients – it’s small!)